UNM Psychiatric Center
The UNM Psychiatric Center offers both inpatient and outpatient services.
Credit: Sara Mota

The UNM Psychiatric Center is celebrating the opening of a new primary care clinic focused on meeting the special needs of patients with severe mental illness.

“With the opening of this clinic, we can provide our patients with a true medical home,” said Ann Taylor Trujillo, ED, RN, executive director of the UNM Psychiatric Center.

Open Monday through Friday, the clinic – located within the psychiatric center's inpatient facility – provides patients with a “one-stop shop” approach to health care. Patients can be seen by a primary care provider, have psychiatric medicines checked and take classes in health promotion, including nutrition, wellness and smoking cessation, said Trujillo.

The clinic, known as ICOPE, is already being well-utilized even in the preliminary stages of its development, added Medical Director Swala Abrams, MD.

The ability to provide coordinated primary care is especially important for mental health patients who can easily become overwhelmed when asked to maneuver within multiple medical environments, said Denise Lin, MD, assistant professor and associate director of residency training in the UNM Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“We know from research that people with severe mental illness die 20 to 25 years sooner than the general population," Lin said. "And they are dying from treatable chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.” 

Funding for the clinic is being provided through a $1.6 million, four-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Trujillo. 

The UNM Psychiatric Center, located at 2600 Marble NE in Albuquerque, is a component of UNM Hospitals and offers a wide spectrum of innovative inpatient and outpatient services, from addiction and substance abuse programs to senior care to psychiatric emergency services.  Established in 1967, it is the largest community mental health provider in the state with telehealth links to communities, schools, corrections facilities and organizations across the state.